Did Big Love infringe on the University of Utah?
by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 10th 2009 2:02PM
HBO's Big Love has a way of stirring up controversy, although on a scale of 1-10, 10 being big time controversy, this Big Love trademark infringement case with the University of Utah is about a 2.
Seriously, what's the big deal? Here's the story in a nutshell: there was a three-second shot of the University of Utah logo on UU (yeah, that's what they call themselves) letterhead which the school claims was used without permission.
Well, excuse me for doubting the veracity of the Utes (their nickname), but is this really worth making a fuss? I don't think so. In fact, I think if this had occurred on another less Utah-centric, polygamy-filled, controversy-inducing drama, the University wouldn't have even noticed the three-second shot. HBO has issued a statement defending the show. The University is demanded the shot be deleted in all future airings and the upcoming DVD release.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Even if HBO is right and Big Love had permission and did nothing wrong, the show should delete the three-seconds. Insert a close up of Bill's (Bill Paxton) eyes or a cut-away to the master shot, anything will do because the logo from the college is unnecessary to the point of the scene. The characters tell viewers what the letter shows -- that the college authenticated the letter from former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Wilford Woodruff that legitimizes the practice of polygamy -- and that's more than enough.
Oh, and next year, Big Love should simply invent a phony university for future verification scenes if they come up. After all, Bill is inventing a new religion for his family. In fiction, and TV rights squabbles, invention is the way to go.